Sometimes, a skinny man or woman who wishes to gain weight will avoid cardio exercise out of fear it will prevent them from reaching their goal.

The irony is that in many people who want to lose weight, who do “tons of cardio,” the cardio isn’t very effective!

If you’re skinny and want to gain weight, DO cardio exercise.

This doesn’t mean you must spend hours and hours every week on cardio equipment.

But just because you want to gain weight, doesn’t mean you should deprive your heart from exercise that will make it fitter and healthier.

The effectiveness of steady-state cardio exercise at slashing body weight is overestimated.

The proof is all around you: Look at all the people on cardio equipment and in aerobics classes at your gym. How many are skinny?

But what about marathon athletes?

Yes, marathon runners are thin, but the cardio that a thin (or any size) person should do is hardly comparable to marathon training.

I’m talking three times a week for 30 minutes for cardiovascular health.

If a skinny person eats plenty of natural, complex carbohydrates, lean sources of protein and healthy fats like nuts, olive oil and coconut oil, AND strength trains using heavy weights and focuses on compound movements, that individual should gain weight.

Three, 30 minute sessions of steady state cardio per week will not sabotage this plan.

If anything, it can enhance it by providing the trainee with energy to carry them through their strength training sessions.

I’m not saying that jogging on a treadmill will enable you to bench press 200 pounds, but cardio exercise promotes better aerobic fitness, and better aerobic fitness will give you a little extra perk in your daily routine, giving you that extra boost to hit the gym hard.

When a skinny person can’t gain weight despite doing a lot of lifting, what’s typically the case is that they do the wrong lifting exercises and/or don’t use heavy-enough weight.

A food diary is especially important. Many thin individuals don’t eat as much as they think they do.

Bottom line for skinny folks: Do cardio, hit the weights hard, do not fill up on junk food, and focus on lean proteins, complex carbs, vegetables and healthy fats.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.